This year, I began my season with a 5000 meter race on the track. I absolutely love running on the track. I don’t know if I can pinpoint what, exactly, makes the track so magical… it just is.
The first time I raced on the track was in elementary school. The Hershey’s Track and Field Games hosted a local meet every year, and one year my brother and I registered to compete. I’m pretty sure we did as many events as we were allowed, ranging from the softball throw to the standing long jump to the 200 meter dash.
We didn’t have a team or club to train with, so my parents made up workouts for us. We would go on runs with them, do “wind sprints” on the street in front of our house, and even run repeats around a paved loop in the local cemetary while my mom timed us.
When the meet got closer, my dad recruited one of our neighbors (who was involved in Masters Track and Field) to give us some tips. We walked to the high school stadium, and slipped through the gap in the fence for our first track “practice”…
I remember learning how to stand so you could get a fast start, that you had to stay in your lane during your race, and that a staggered start meant some people got a head start but it would somehow work out fairly in the end.
Running the 400m dash
at the 1993 Hershey’s Track and Field Local Meet
(the summer after fifth grade)
400m dash podium in 1993
(L to R: Sarah, Lauren, and myself).
I am extra proud of our awesome outfits.
Those track meets in elementary school were the beginning of my running career. I ran cross country and track in high school, and (even though I was focused on swimming) I managed to run a few years in college too. While the focus of my running has changed quite a bit over the years, one thing that has stayed the same is my love for the track.
Somehow, stepping onto that rubberized surface changes everything. Toeing the line and waiting with anticipation for the sharp crack of the starter’s pistol brings back so many memories of track races over the years. I think that’s partly why I’ve started racing on the track again.
Last year, I signed up for my first track meet in 11 years, and I had so much fun that I decided to do it again this year. The venue was the Occidental College Distance Carnival, and the race was the 5000 meter run. Last year, I could barely contain my excitement to be racing on the track again, and I went out way too fast and paid for it later in the race. Oops. 🙂
This year, I came back to the same meet determined to run a smarter race. I stuck to my race plan, even when I started in virtually last place of the 50 women in my heat. As the race went on, I started passing girls one by one. By the end of the race, I still felt strong and even had a legit kick. There’s nothing like the feeling of accelerating around that last turn and giving it everything you have as you race for the finish!
This year, racing on the track was more than just the start to my triathlon season. It brought back memories of all the fun I’ve had running over the years, and served as a great reminder of why I compete in triathlon… because I enjoy it!
Special thanks to my mom for digging up the old photos you see here, and to both my parents for encouraging my brother and I in our athletic endeavors over the years. If it wasn’t for them, I definitely wouldn’t be the athlete I am today.